You say you want a revolution? Gabe Kapler’s your guy.
Maybe he should manage in a beret, a la Che Guevara.
Or a black mock turtleneck, a la Steve Jobs.
Like the Apple founder, Gabe has the “Think Different” mantra everywhere he goes.
He indicated his intention to break new ground by assembling a coaching staff in 2020 that featured newcomers galore, including the first woman in MLB history.
He speaks to the media in measured, analytical, philosophical tones that we’ve never heard come out of a big league skipper’s office — usually the domicile of tobacco and cuss words.
He has taken on the issue of mental health awareness in an unprecedented manner, even wearing a “STRENGTH IS NOT ALWAYS PHYSICAL” tee shirt in the dugout.
And now comes the Kapler Manifesto on unwritten rules of baseball.
This is perhaps Kapler’s most radical move yet — to take 100 years of baseball tradition and say: The hell with that.
You know the deal by now. Giants up, 11-2. Tuesday night. Bottom 6. Mauricio Dubon bunts for a base hit. The Padres dugout reacted as if someone next to them cut the cheese on a crowded airplane.
I won’t bore you with my take. I already covered it the “Fernando Tatis Jr 3-0 Hack for a Grand Slam” Jock Blog of 2021. If you missed it, I do believe in “the code”, particularly because 162 is such a grind and respect for the difficulty of the game has proven to be a sportsmanlike and fair way to go about business this past century or so. It’s how I view the world; respect the concept that baseball is a game of failure, and when your opponent has tasted that failure, don’t drop bunts up 11-2, bottom 6. Some days you are the hammer; some days you are the nail. Bottom line: respect the nail, is what I’m saying.
I know most of you feel differently. I’ve seen your texts. This is a politics/religion thing, sports fans. What you believe is what you believe.
Back to the point of the Jock Blog: Kapler as a revolutionary.
It’s always good to have people in your midst jar your way of thinking. When everyone zigs, it’s good to see that someone is zagging. My partner Paulie Mac would tell you this is what punk rock is all about. You don’t have to like how punk rock sounds, but you’re better for having heard it.
Apple’s ad features the likes of Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, among others. The ad says “they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo.”
That’s pretty much Kapler. No, I’m not saying he’s MLK in a City Connect jersey. Please, don’t misinterpret. I am saying however, that he has a very studied and calculated approach to overturn the apple cart of baseball tradition — oh, hey, there goes Alyssa Nakken to coach first base.
He has come to disrupt the norm. I don’t always agree with said disruption, but I respect that he’s making us think. Farhan Zaidi’s mentor, Billy Beane, did similar things in how he evaluates talent and assembles teams. It’s clear to me that Farhan admired that, and his hiring of Kapler — when nobody else in the baseball establishment wanted him, post-Philadelphia — was meant to be a hire that changed the way the Giants do business.
Now, we can argue whether never calling off the dogs in a blowout win is a good or bad way to do business; and we can argue whether this strategy could come back to bite the Giants sometimes, or whether the Giants are comfortable being the “bad guys” who affront the game’s code. We could even argue whether or not the romance of baseball is being strangled by this new-fangled approach, and you could probably have a healthy debate on that very topic alone.
But there’s no argument that Kapler is here to make change, and that’s damn interesting.
A World Series in the next few years would help the argument, sure.
In the meantime, sit back and observe. Watch the game different.